The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Planned Parenthood Arson Attack

Jan 31, 2022

The fire department in Knoxville, Tennessee has announced an arson investigation of a fire that destroyed the Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi on December 31. It took 9 units of firefighters to extinguish the blaze.

This was the second attack on this healthcare center. Almost a year earlier, on January 22—the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision—gunfire destroyed the glass front door of the building. No suspects have been charged.

On both occasions, no one was in the building and no injuries were reported.

In a Rolling Stone interview, the head of this Planned Parenthood explained that what had always been peaceful protest activity at this clinic changed after December 29, 2020. On this day, an anti-abortion minister from Spokane, Washington relocated to Knoxville. He called his newly founded “congregation,” The Church at Planned Parenthood (TCAPP). He delivered his first sermon from a tent across the street from the Planned Parenthood, saying, "We pray that every fire of heaven would come against this building, and would come against this organization and would come against this evil, in Jesus’s name." This same far-right minister did a TV news interview in front of the smoldering ruins, saying, among other things, "We just pray that nobody was hurt."

In 2020, the National Abortion Federation reported an increase in almost every category of threat of harm and death against abortion providers, compared to 2019.

In November 2021, the head of Mississippi’s last abortion clinic said in an interview that she has noticed a change in the behavior of anti-abortion protesters. "They have not only dead baby pictures. It’s gone way beyond that…. The men are clearly armed. You can see the guns in their pockets." She described how, lately, the local police will not come to her Jackson, Mississippi clinic when called for help. She said, "We are so lucky to have unbelievable women and men who stand out there to escort these women in and get them through this nonsense."

The head of Knoxville Planned Parenthood said the organization is not intimidated. "We are on the same track that we were on before the fire, which is, we are planning to expand in Knoxville."

The uptick in threatening behavior by anti-abortion activists comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to deliver a decision this summer to undermine or eliminate Roe v. Wade’s abortion rights protections at the federal level. This will, no doubt, further embolden the far right.

Defending the right to safe and legal abortion will be up to women themselves. Sooner or later, it will require a level of organization that previous social movements, like the Civil Rights and workers’ movements found a way to build. After all, we can’t look to the government, state, police, or courts. That, by now, is obvious.